Watershed launches £30,000 International Playable City Award

Posted on Wed 24 Oct 2012

Today we are announcing the Playable City Award, a new commission open to artists and creatives from across the world. With a challenge to use creative technologies in surprising and engaging ways, the winner of the award will receive £30,000 to create a new work which will be installed in a public space in Bristol next summer (before being toured internationally).

Today we are announcing the Playable City Award, a new commission open to artists and creatives from across the world.

With a challenge to use creative technologies in surprising and engaging ways, the winner of the award will receive £30,000 to create a new work which will be installed in a public space in Bristol next summer (before being toured internationally).

So, what is a playable city? The short answer is that we don't know - this award is part of our exploration to find out. We first used the term as the title of a lab we produced with British Council last year. We also have plans for a year-long programme of work with British Council in Recife (Brazil) next year, but this is our first open call on the theme.

We are imagining a 'Playable City' as a counterpoint to 'A Smart City' (where technology is all about infrastructure, services and monitoring). We think people, hospitality and openness will be key - a playable city is a place where residents and visitors have permission to reconfigure and rewrite places, attractions and stories.

And where better than Bristol to investigate this theme? From street art to street games, in the last five years our city has put itself on the map for its playful approach to public spaces, inviting residents and visitors to get engaged with the city and its creative and cultural future.

The award opens up lots of possibilities for Watershed: it is our first international award and commission with an international touring opportunity, an exciting departure from the research and development support we normally offer artists and creatives. We have a brilliant judging panel in place (including musician Imogen Heap, Creative Director of Google Labs in Sydney Tom Uglow and Claire Doherty, Director of Situations) and are very excited about the new talent and ideas the opportunity will bring into our network and our city.

Finally, in a typically collaborative fashion, the award is being co-funded by a network of Bristol-based companies who exemplify the city's strength in Creative Technologies. They are: Aardman, BDH, HP Labs, IBM, IMDB, The Bristol SETsquared Centre, Sift, Team Rubber, Thirty Three, TLT LLP, Toshiba, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council, with support from Arts Council England. We are also really pleased to be working with The Festival of Ideas on a series of talks and events to further explore this theme.

You can find out more and apply for the award at watershed.co.uk/playablecity. Applications close on 5 December 2012 and we will be publishing the full shortlist and asking for your comments at the end of the year.